"Virtual learning" for many parents, and their young children, is becoming increasingly challenging now that it has been over six weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our Lady Star of the Sea Preschool and Kindergarten teacher, Laura Schwartz offers strategies and tools to parents and caregivers to work through learning engagement challenges, as well as, supporting the emotional health of their child.
Common concerns and questions:
What do I do when my child does not want to do his or her schoolwork?
Having a child complete a task in a classroom environment is completely different than at home. While schools are closed, we want children to maintain a positive attitude to avoid any extra traumatic feelings when it is time to return to the classroom.
At this time, it is important for you, as the parent or caregiver, to be aware when your young child has reached the point of frustration. When this happens, allow your child to choose their own activity (preferably avoiding screen time). YES, even if they just want to play! Playing is learning at this age and can open the door to so many discussions and teaching opportunities. This is a chance to allow your child to lead the way!
What if I do not have time to play my child?
That is okay too! Children can explore and discover on their own, usually with minimal supplies. If your child is having a difficult time playing on their own, try setting a timer. Let your child know you will come play when the timer goes off. By that time, they may have discovered a game they can play all on their own!
How do I talk to my child about the coronavirus with my preschool or kindergarten child?
Be honest. You can give your child accurate information while using language that they understand. For example:
“There is a germ that is spreading from person to person. To stop the germ from spreading and making people sick, we need to stay inside and make sure we wash our hands.”
If you sense your child is feeling stressed or overwhelmed by this be sure to give encouraging words such as “we’re going to stay inside together” or “we’ll be safe if we stay home and do what the doctors tell us.” Tip...do your best to avoid news channels or in-depth adult discussions while your little one is in the room.
What do I tell my child when they ask about going back to school or seeing friends and family?
Remind your child that all those people are home as well! There will be a day that they will see them again when it is safe. Keep in mind most young children do not have a firm understanding of the concept of time so they may ask this question quite often.
Be empathetic! Let them know that not seeing friends and family makes you feel upset as well.
Be comforting and reassuring as to not alarm your child.
Redirect them with a favorite activity. Or make other suggestions such as calling family members on the phone or drawing a picture and mailing it to a friend.
The most important thing we can do for the little ones at this time is to be emotionally supportive.This is a time to have an open dialogue with your children. Allow them to ask questions and have discussions. Now is a great time to help your child learn the skill of identifying their feelings.
Use pictures or other visual examples and teach them the appropriate vocabulary for emotions.
Encourage some good ways to express feelings such as:
Drawing a picture of your feelings
Find a quiet place to be alone
Listen to some music and dance
Play with a pet
Give your pillow a big squeeze
Play with Play Do
Ask for a hug from a grown-up close to you
Check out Mrs. Schwartz's book recommendations about feelings:
Mrs. Schwartz holds a B.S. in elementary and special education from St. Joseph's University. She brings several years of experience teaching in both preschool and special education classrooms. Mrs. Schwartz is excited to help her students thrive academically, emotionally, spiritually, and physically with many engaging activities. She looks forward to watching her students grow and work together to develop a true love for learning in these important educational years.